Davidson College and Piedmont Natural Gas (PNG) have reached agreement on the route a new PNG pipeline will take across college property. The 5,100-foot section that crosses the college's land will be part of a 127-mile line supplying natural gas to Duke/Progress Energy's Sutton power plant in Wilmington.
Davidson officials learned in late January of PNG's original planned pipeline route, and at that time raised concerns about the significant damage it would cause to the college's ecological preserve. The preserve covers about 1/3 of the college's 600-acre property and is the site of frequent scientific investigations by professors and students.
The two parties entered into negotiations at that time, and have now reached agreement on an alternate route for the pipeline that runs mostly adjacent to an existing utility corridor on college property. Toward the southern end of the college's property, the route will turn eastward and cross pastureland before exiting college property.
The agreement with the college gives PNG a new easement that ranges in width between 65 and 70 feet, which is in addition to the existing 40-foot easement that PNG already has on college property. By running the new easement along the existing energy corridor rather than through the ecological preserve, damage to the most sensitive areas of the preserve is avoided. After construction is complete, trees will be replanted along portions of the easement within the ecological preserve to further minimize the long-term effect of the project.
Construction is expected to begin in late fall, and continue through early spring. It will affect some parts of the college's cross country trails, and the college will work to maintain as much access to the trails as is safely possible during the construction period.